Blog > Winter Mountaineering

3rd Pinnacle of Gillean, 25 January

26/01/14

Conditions on Pinnacle Ridge yesterday were absolutely excellent but very serious at the same time. We put crampons on at the foot of 1st/2nd Gully and had great neve from then onwards.

IMG_4945 (800x600)Topping out of 1st / 2nd Gully

Sadly squeezing any routes in between the storms this month is a frantic business. Our attempt on Pinnacle Ridge was cut short but climbing the 3rd Pinnacle on its own felt like a a very full-on adventure.

A broad streak of thick snow ran straight to the top of the 3rd Pinnacle and we reached it in 2 50m pitches.

P1130080 (600x800)2 long pitches took us up the continuos line of snow from left to the very top.

 

The abseil from the top nearly reached the col below but not quite so a hanging belay had to be excavated.

P1130086 (600x800)Hanging belay on 3rd Pinnacle

The traverse out onto Knight’s Peak is always exposed and knarly with a swing into the void for both leaders and seconds a distinct possiblity.

Spacewalking (800x600)Spacewalking out onto the 4th Pinnacle

With time against us and softer snow on the changed aspect we decided to run away with an abseil down to the east. A particularly black cloud engulfed us soon after, lashed us with hail that created a beautiful waterfall effect as they slooshed down the steep faces above.

Waterfalls of hailstones2 (600x800)Waterfalls of hailstones

As it was we finished in the dark so twas a sound decision. Hopefully back for the full ascent tomorrow if these winds calm down!

 

 

Winter Climbing Meet 2014 photos and links.

26/01/14

16 of us met in the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut last weekend for the annual Skye winter meet. The weather gods were gathering payback from us for such stonking conditions in 2013 but enthusiasm got everyone out still to build up an appetite for food and beers.P1020625 (600x800)Romain gives instructions on how to fondue and raclette- Over 5kg of cheese was consumed!

Friday was excellent and all 7  of the early arrivers headed to the snowy north end. Dave and John climbed North-west Face Route (II) on Gillean, Romain and Steve the NW Ridge of Bruach na Frithe

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while Ian, Dave and I found some ice on Running on Numpty (II) on the flank of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir.

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Dave and Ian after climbing Running on Numpty

Dave went back to Bruach na Frithe with Nicola the next day and won again, the only team to brave the showers and they won with a 360 panorama from the top. Link to dave Bowdlers shots- https://plus.google.com/photos/103884480644177632031/albums/5970627149310564129

Other activities included walks out to Macleod’s Maidens &  Glamaig. Some great dry-tooling was found just along from the beach and further out towards Ruabh Dunain and Lucy Janni and I climbed onto the Cioch for a sword fight.P1020641 (800x600)Lucy leading Slab Corner up to the Cioch

Romain’s videos- http://youtu.be/WbhbMYzGu7I

Romain’s photos- https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=7CD9146C44E3A670&id=7CD9146C44E3A670%212328&v=3&authkey=%21AAKu0MCarsqnP9U

Thanks to everyone for showing their support, fine effort all around.

Great conditions for Eag Dubh and the Ridge crest

14/01/14

Temperatures dropped overnight and left us a good thicknes of snow from about 650m today. I did worry about avalanches but snow pits showed a very old layer with 2 or 3 fresher layers resonably well bonded above.

Lined Eag Dubh AnDorus

The clouds clung thinly to the Ridge almsot all day but parted frequently enough to let us appreciate the grandeur of our surroundings.

do you want to see my puppies

Hard graft  Romp to the top Rooftop finale

A Torridonian Treat; 4th January 2014

07/01/14

Jim, Merrissa and I ended the week on a high with an ascent of Liathach over on the mainland. On Friday night we braved wild weather just to drive the 70 miles and then a 10 minute walk to the Ling Hut in the dark and driving rain. Next morning little seemed to have changed by 8am but the forecast came right just before 9.

Archive photo of the SMC Ling hut with Liathach behind; our route gained the crest at the right edge and traversed to the obvious high point called Spidean a’ Choire Leith (1055m)

The ascent is quite possibly the fiercest anywhere in the UK, rising from 30m above sea-level to 833m in little over a kilometre.We put crampons on at about 700m and it was obvious our descent was going to be concentrated.

our route behind us

Along the crest the snow was immaculate with just a small amount of give in a uniform covering.

Sun over Maol Carn Dearg

Roped together we wandered for the next hour in an almost dream-like manner with amazing light on the views all around.

 

Western Ridge of LiathachFrom the summit the ridge still stretched away into the distance but a lack of time and light meant we reluctantly had to turn heel and begin our descent.Luckily a direct slope back into Coire Liath Mhor gave a good fast start to this stage. A lip of rock below made us do a short abseil before traversing back towards our original path.

I realised it had been over 10 years since my last pilgramage to Torridon; this left me with mixed feelings of embarressment but mainly joy at rediscovering the hills I used to know so well. Liathach is 2nd only to Ben Nevis for mainland mountains I have climbed on. It won’t be long before I’m back again.

Good to be back

Hogmanay fun; 31st December

03/01/14

Jim & I were on the verge of aborting today because of the rain and winds. Returning to base the red Cuillin peaks all around were suddenly clear and highly attractive with a warm cuppa in hand!

2 minutes back down the road we set off past the waterfall with the long snowfields on the North Face of Garbh-bheinn. These turned out to be very fine with crampons needed pretty much from the first patches of snow at 500m. 1000ft and an hour later we’d explored some exciting buttress terrain as well as the easy gully features to reach the summit.

Descending with N face below JimLooking down on the north face of Garbh-bheinn as we descended

Windows soon appeared through the mist as we descended. Golden light reflected off the sea at Camasunary. Gradually views into the main Cuillin appeared with mists being turned pink by the setting sun behind.

Looking good on the Ridge, 29th December

29/12/13

Beautiful calm day today for some Cuillin exploration.

Early clouds dispersed to leave us magnificent views up to the Coire Lagan peaks.P1120706 (800x600)

Sgurr Mhiccoinnich

The kids all enjoyed the boulders while waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

I love the light at this time of year with the subtle hues of dawn pretty much blending in with the sunset.

P1120713 (800x600)Rum & Eigg silouetted in the mid-winter sun

Climbers will be interested in the conditions and potential fun just now; below is my report for UKClimbing. I’ve put a zoomed picture of the top of Sgurr Dearg and the In Pinn immediately below.

“The heavy snows have been stripped out right up to 700m but, above this, serious quantities are still plastering all rocks. With temperatures up to 7 degrees or so yesterday it is very likely to have thawed to the tops and is now solidifying nicely.
Worth an attempt on a Traverse if we can get a settled period of weather but I can’t spot that window myself.
Not much ice visible and all but the steepest mixed lines likely to be swamped. Not sure it is cold enough for the plastered snow to be much use.”

P1120723 (800x600)West flank of Dearg summit plastered in deep snow; I would expect lots of rock showing through after a thaw normally.

Gallery-

Bruach na Frithe Blizzards, 19th December

19/12/13

Ben has been dealt more than his fair share of weather for his course but enthusiasm and attitude has given us a couple of excellent days.

Braes to Raasay

Yesterday we avoided the wind down on the beach at the Braes with a refresher session on gear placements and retrieving abseil ropes. We finished with a great bit of fun dry-tooling up a greasy steep corner.Dry tooling braes With nearly zero friction for the feet it was a fight to the top but great lesson (for both of us!) in trusting thin placements.

This morning winds dropped to gale force instead of storm force so we headed past the Fairy Pools toward the Spur of Sgurr an Fheadian. It looked very dry and unlikely we would need crampons so we gambled instead on heading higher, hoping that the wind gods would be kind.

A tail-wind up the Tairnilear stone shoot was most welcome.

Reaching TairnilearA good coating of ice covered almost every rock for the final 100m of ascent and crampons were a definite good move.

The view

 

Peace from the wind over the crest of the Ridge was made even better by the subtle colours out towards Blaven and beyond.

Snow started falling as we set off and everything turned white very soon after but the wind was steady more than gusting and we made good progress, reaching the top in about 2 hours.Maelstrom

Midst of the heavy snow shower

The descent down Fionn Choire was another matter as we were battered from every direction, slapped by walls of spindrift and pelted by hail that felt more like lead shot; strangely no pics;-)

Our routeOur route went from the V-notch leftward to Bruach na Frithe.

Enjoy the gallery-

Conditions update & forecast at 17th December.

17/12/13
glamaig 17 12 13Sunlit smattering on Glamaig on Monday (16th) morning
Just a quick update to say that its been cool for 48 hours with a thin covering reaching down to about 600m. It seems unlikely this lot will survive the wet thaw due tomorrow but continued gales and cold pulsing in again on Thursday. Not ideal in the short term but general wind-chill and cold snaps forecast over Xmas should hopefully see Santa leaving us a good base for the rest of the season.
Here’s MWIS outlook this morning- “Frequent severe gales and intermittent storm force winds (or stronger) on the mountains well into and perhaps throughout the Christmas period. Precipitation will be considerable on western mountains, with a series of freeze-thaw cycles on all mountain areas. Cold conditions (when snow will lie on lower slopes) will be prevalent across Scotland, less so elsewhere.”
Plenty of time for “altitude training” ;-)

Cheeky conditions on Clach Glas

07/12/13

 

Chris and I snatched a Clach Glas crossing between the tropical rains of Tuesday and northern gales of Thursday but not without a fight. A mix of snow and dry rock allowed us to reach the summit without crampons but they were obligatory on the sketchy descent.P1120239 (800x600)

Sheltered sunny approach

The pics are a pretty true reflection of the weather, we only got hit by one heavy snow shower on the summit, but don’t do the wind any justice. Unpredictable gusts added spice and watering eyes knocked the concentration; we were certainly glad to be roped the whole way!P1120242 (800x600)

Ridge view

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Down-climb early on

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Summit view north

P1120252 (800x600)Summit view south

We happily dropped out of the maelstrom by the screes below the Putting Green and reached the car before darkness and the real storm arrived.